In blockchain we trust
In this piece for the MIT Technology Review, Michael Casey and Paul Vigna explain how blockchain technology has ushered in the greatest innovation in trusted accounting since the 14th Century.
The dot-com bubble of the 1990s is popularly viewed as a period of crazy excess that ended with hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth being destroyed. What’s less often discussed is how all the cheap capital of the boom years helped fund the infrastructure upon which the most important internet innovations would be built after the bubble burst. It paid for the rollout of fiber-optic cable, R&D in 3G networks, and the buildout of giant server farms. All of this would make possible the technologies that are now the bedrock of the world’s most powerful companies: algorithmic search, social media, mobile computing, cloud services, big-data analytics, AI, and more.
We think something similar is happening behind the wild volatility and stratospheric hype of the cryptocurrency and blockchain boom. The blockchain skeptics have crowed gleefully as crypto-token prices have tumbled from last year’s dizzying highs, but they make the same mistake as the crypto fanboys they mock: they conflate price with inherent value. We can’t yet predict what the blue-chip industries built on blockchain technology will be, but we are confident that they will exist, because the technology itself is all about creating one priceless asset: trust.
To understand why, we need to go back to the 14th century.